MORE than a third of Slovakia's class II and class III roads are in poor or dangerous condition, according to a recent report from the Slovak Roads Administration.
Regional road administrators say the situation is set to worsen, as most of the road investment is currently channelled into the construction of Slovakia's northern motorway linking Bratislava and Košice, leaving scant resources for road repairs in the regions.
The worst situation is in the eastern Prešov region, where 34.7 percent of the roads are in a dangerous state, says the report.
"The state has not been able to manage regular road maintenance. The road surfaces should be renewed within 10 to 15 years, but we have stretches where new surfaces have not been laid for more than 20 years," Pavel Olejár, the head of the Prešov region's transport section told the daily Pravda.
The cold winter has eaten even further into repair budgets, because municipalities have had to spend money on snow clearing and gritting operations. Now that the spring is here and repairs can be made, local administrations no longer have enough in their coffers for any but the most urgent cases, say representatives of the Žilina regional government.
The cost of new road surfaces is in the region of Sk80 to Sk280 (€1.95 to €6.80) per square metre depending on the level of repairs needed.
"The problem is that each year about Sk500 million (€12.2 million) less is invested in [road repairs] than is necessary," said Ferdinand Lesňák from the Slovak Roads Administration.
In contrast to the Sk600 million (€14.6 million) invested in class II and class III road repairs last year, the government invested Sk8.4 billion (€205 million) in the construction of new motorways.
However, at the same time as the new motorways are being built, smaller roads around the country are deteriorating.
Last year's flooding in some areas also contributed to road deterioration. The daily Nový čas described the condition of the roads in Devín near Bratislava, which suffered severe flooding, as being worse than after the second world war, with potholes and cracks littering the roads.
Some money for the reconstruction of the damaged roads was forthcoming after the floods, but the work remains incomplete. The mayor of Devín, Jozef Paczelt, complained that there were no funds coming from the Bratislava administration to finish the restoration.
"Unfortunately, the municipality doesn't want to give us the money. The city fathers appear to be unconscious of how soon drivers will damage even the partially reconstructed segments of the road," he said.
28. Apr 2003 at 0:00 | Conrad Toft